‘Hunger Games’: How director Gary Ross got the gig

Dec. 22, 2010 | 4:30 p.m.
garyross Hunger Games: How director Gary Ross got the gig

Gary Ross on the set of 2003's "Seabiscuit"

When vying for a coveted film project, directors pull out all the stops — they draft concept art, cut fake trailers and deliver vivid verbal pitches to studio execs. But it was an especially unorthodox strategy that helped earn Gary Ross the plum assignment to direct Lionsgate’s adaptation of “The Hunger Games.”

Ross wasn’t an obvious choice to helm the dystopian fantasy, the first from a series of bestselling books about a 16-year-old girl forced to compete to the death in a cruel arena game. His prior films as director are the 2003 horse-racing drama “Seabiscuit” and the arch 1998 comedy “Pleasantville.” But when Ross met with Lionsgate for the first time, he brought a persuasive piece of video — interviews he’d shot of his kids’ friends explaining why the books mattered to them, and what they loved about the series’ heroine, Katniss Everdeen.

“What was amazing was how insightful these kids were about this book and about Katniss as a character,” says producer Nina Jacobson. “It was so clear that Gary was interested in what the fans cared about.”

Ross brought another unique virtue to the race, which at one point also included “Revolutionary Road’sSam Mendes and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” director David Slade. “In terms of his understanding of Katniss, he has twin teenage children who are a boy and girl,” says Jacobson. “I felt he understood the duality of her character. She’s not a traditional heroine in that frequently heroines are  interested in love first and foremost and other things are secondary. That’s the least of her concerns. And yet, she is a girl. She’s not a boy in a dress. He seemed to understand her impulse toward self-preservation and the preservation of her family.”

The series’ author, Suzanne Collins, also had input into Ross’ selection, according to Jacobson. “Although Suzanne doesn’t have contractual approval, we’ve worked closely together on this and it was really important to me that she be a part of every big decision. She was thrilled about the idea of Gary because he’s a fundamentally character-driven storyteller.”

Ross, who is also writing the “Hunger Games” script, will begin casting the role of Katniss in the new year, and is scheduled to start production on the film in the spring.

– Rebecca Keegan (twitter.com/@thatrebecca)


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31 Responses to ‘Hunger Games’: How director Gary Ross got the gig

  1. Esmeralda says:

    Am Esmeralda. :) Cant wait to see what Ross, and Jacobson, think for the movie. Excited and Happy. I think that Avan Jogia should play the role of Gale. Alex Pettyfer, shold play Petta Melark. Milla Jovovich, should play Joanna Mason. That would be awsome. I can really see them in my head looking what there suppose to be. And they should have the song L-L-Love by Astaire in the movie its a nice magical fantasy song that has wings.

  2. Esmeralda says:

    HI am Esmeralda. And I LOVE the HUNGER GAMES. :) I Cant wait to see what Ross, and Jacobson come up with for the scripts and movie. Am Happy and VERY VERY Excited. I think that Avan Jogia, should play the role of Gale Hawthorn. Alex Pettyfer, playing Peeta Melark. Milla Jovovich, playing Joana Mason. I think that they should put the song L-L-Love by Astaire in the movie The Hunger Games. I think its so magical, all fantasy. Amazing cant wait to here for the auditions. MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR. haha Love yall bye. And good Luck.

  3. Esmeralda says:

    Love the hunger games

  4. Justin says:

    Jack Black for Haymitch!!!!

    • Stephen Andrew says:

      Also newcomer for Peeta at least. And perhaps for Katniss as well!
      I also think Ian Holm would make a fantastic President Snow

      • tsfan13 says:

        Or Robert Downey, Jr and Johnny Depp? But they definitely should cast unknowns as and known actors as the older characters. Like Naomi Watts for Katniss' mom and one of my two suggestions for Haymitch. Maybe even Matt Damon for Katniss' dad. I think they should have flashbacks of Katniss' childhood so they can better understand her attitude, personality and vulnerability.

    • katniss mellatk says:

      jack black aint no haymitch u idiot besides i dont think jack would wanna act all drunk

  5. Korat97 says:

    Gary Ross didn’t write the script, Suzanne Collins wrote it.

  6. Suua P. says:

    If an unknown was to star as Katniss, she'd have to be a naturally born american, at the age 15-17 with an amazing acting performance. I really would love it if Gary Ross focused more on the acting than the physical appearance because that's what happened with Twilight, Kristen Stewart probably had the physical features to the character of Bella, but her acting was terrible. She's probably the worst actress in Hollywood history.

  7. hgnumb1fan says:

    The article says he's writing it!. Either way, he's an awesome director. Can't wait to see what he does with this!!

  8. hgnumb1fan says:

    The article says he's writing it. Either way, he's an awesome director. Can't wait to see what he does with this!

  9. Suua P. says:

    My top choices for Katniss are Saoirse Ronan, Hailee Stienfeld and Chloe Moretz.

  10. cali says:

    Follow the official Hunger Games movie twitter page! http://twitter.com/thehungergames

  11. Ashling says:

    Aww man! If he got the gig because he asked a bunch of kids what they thought, this movie is going to be a let down. The last thing we need is kids having a say in the movie. The book is all blood and guts and things that arent sutible for kids, if they make this a movie sutible for kids how are they going to kill off people?
    I hope they made a mistake saying 'kids' and actually ment to say 'teenagers'

  12. Alice says:

    I love Hunger Games! My favorite books! I can't wait to see the movie. If Gary Ross is reading this, then he truly cares about the fans of the books.:) So, my TOP choices for Katniss are Saoirse Ronan and Isabelle Fuhrman. Saoirse is the right age, but Isabelle can totally pull it off, plus she has Katniss eyes.

  13. bailey says:

    i want to try out for primrose everdeen cause i am her age and blode haired ive been looking for auditions but i cant find them i think i would be really good because i did plays at my school and never forgot my lines. i love the books so much it would be awesome to be prim i read the books and am about to start the third one i know what happens to prim in the third since someone slipped up and told me but that dosent matter. i know acting at school is different than in front of a camera but i just want to audition to show them im good if i dont get it i would be upset but it wouldnt be that bad theres always next time if it dosent work out but when ever i audotion for something i mess up i'll have to work on it but that reallyonly happens when i sing i bet i can do this!

  14. bailey says:

    i was the last person to comment i think. im bailey i forgot to put my email but please comment on my other comment if it issubmitted if you think i can do it.

  15. Carly says:

    I want to try out for Katniss, Prim, or Glimmer. I am 11 years old, 5 feet and 4 inches tall, have blonde hair and blue eyes, and am the ultimate hunger games superfan. I have been in plays since I was 4 years old, have been singing since I was 2 years old, I am in school choir, and have gotten 6 solos, gotten the lead in 2 plays, even when kids that were older than me were auditioning. From my vision, I look exactly like prim, and if I was wearing high heels, I look exactly like glimmer, but you could dye my hair, and then I would look like Katniss, plus my hair is pretty long. Please e-mail me with audition info!

  16. Shauntae says:

    I think that it would be best and exciting to have mostly new faces with maybe 2 or 3 recognizable faces. So everyone will be interested and drawn in by the new comers. Even though it will already be a hit because everyone loves the hunger games. An I am not just saying their should be new comers because I would like to be in it. Though that would be a dream come true………………
    K anyone gets casting information post it or e-mail me.

  17. Ivy Grace says:

    I would just die for an audition to play Katniss…But i cant find contact information..I want to Send Mr. Ross and E-Mail asking him to do a casting call near where i live…It's my dream…

  18. Alisssandra says:

    i think i would so fit for Katniss i have long black hair and brown eyes but i can wear grey contacts! But i want some newcomers for the movie but if they put people famous for Katniss,Gale,or Peeta i would so not forgive Mr.Ross for it. but ill watch anyways cuz im a HUGE FAN!!

  19. Adriana M. says:

    I really want to be Rue. I'd be PERFECT! I'm eleven but I look twelve. I have olive skin, big brown eyes, and dark brown hair. but Im practically a nobody and dont have an agent. Im thin but muscular and can run fast. Im also a talented singer and actress. the only other thing is that Im tall and Rue was small. Still, they dont need to have everything like the book….do they?

  20. Danielle D. says:

    I would love to be Katniss. I hate bragging about myself, but I believe I would be perfect. I may be 14, but I have the olive/tan skin, 5 ft. 3 in., brown eyes (I can get grey contacts), and brown hair (which is dyable). Not only that, but I am skilled with a bow and arrow, which is Katniss' weapon. I can dance and I have her killer instinct when she is the games.

  21. Lizzie E. says:

    I think a great song to put in the Hunger Games movie would be "Sing" by Chemical Romance. I think that song shows Katniss's anger towards the Capitol and towards the actual Hunger Games. The song tells her to "sing it out". The message it is telling from Katniss's view would be her thinking she has to "sing it out", or tell the capitol that they (the children from the districs) can't be used like toys. This song will show what Katniss feels like inside.

  22. Kelsey says:

    i think "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons would be an excellent choice of song for the movie! It talks about hard times and overcoming them. If you listen to the song it's a perfect one for the Hunger Games.

  23. dani dacuyan says:

    I can’t wait to see the movie version of Hunger Games. Please don’t fall short of this huge fan’s high expectations especially on the spectacular scenes at the arena as vividly depicted on the pages of Collins’ super books!

  24. Alyssa Ford says:

    This reply goes out to Gary Ross. When I heard that Madge was being cut out of the movie I was in shock. There isn’t really a point to the mockingjay pin without Madge. Cutting out Madge is like cutting out Katniss herself. That pin was the foundation of the entire movie! That pin that MADGE gave Katniss was everything!! Everything revolved around the mockingjay and without Madge in the movie it’s ruined. Thank you for readin this and I know it’s not good now sice the movie is already done but it’s still something you should have considered. (:

  25. Janelle Webster says:

    Hi Gary Ross,
    I am in modelling and acting and i have experiences with acting and i would like to audition for catching fire or mockingjay! I loved all of the books and i loveeeed the movie The Hunger Games and would love to be in the next ones! Please e-mail me if you need anyone for parts in the movie Catching fire or Mockingjay. Acting and modelling are my passions and I would be willing to audition for anything that is available. I am dark skinned and i am 14. Thanks.

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